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Hindu temple vandalised in US

The $9-milllion temple in the city of Maple Grove was vandalised by unknown miscreants.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 18:41 IST

A Hindu temple, that was to be inaugurated in June, was vandalised in the city of Maple Grove leaving its idols damaged and the 20,000 strong Indian American community in the state of Minnesota outraged.

The vandals, who apparently entered the $9-milllion temple after 9 pm on April 5, punched holes in several walls as they rummaged through the property.

Umesh Singh, executive committee member of the temple's board of trustees, said that he had been at the temple till about 8 pm, overseeing preparations for its June consecration.

That formal inauguration is now likely to postponed since the idols were damaged during the attack. Singh said the idols, made from granite, were flipped over by the vandals but did not seem to have been specifically attacked.

"Police are doing a thorough investigation. Samples from the temple have been sent to the crime lab whose report is awaited," Singh said. He said there were no graffiti or racially charged messages left on the temple walls.

Asked how the Indian American community was viewing the attack, he said, "we are all saddened. Some of us are outraged and feel violated by the attack. But the city authorities have been very cooperative in their investigation because they too want to bring the perpetrators to justice soon."

The 43,000 square feet temple, built with the help of sculptors and temple architects from India, was in the final stage of its construction. The Hindu Society of Minnesota raised the money to build the temple from among the community. It was in the making for nearly two years.

"The city of Maple Grove has been enthusiastically involved in the planning and construction of the new temple and is extremely distressed about the acts of vandalism. The city is actively working with authorities on the investigation of the vandalism," an official statement from the temple management said.

"We remain positive that our temple will be restored and that this case of vandalism will not affect the healthy and established relationship between the Hindu Society of Minnesota and the greater community," said Shashikant Sane, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Hindu Society of Minnesota.

Bala Balasubramaniam, a trustee of the temple, said the Indian American community had sought the help of state Senator Satveer Chaudhary on the matter. "Minnesota is a very tolerant state and it has always accepted immigrants with open arms," he said.

He said the authorities were treating this as a serious crime. One of the many surmises being circulated was that the attack may have come from schools students during a spring break.

Students across the country are known to indulge in drunken revelry during the spring break and are known to have indulged in similar vandal attacks.

According to Singh and Balasubramaniam, there were no suspects in the case yet, a fact independently reported by the local media.

Maple Grove Police Capt. Tracy Stille told the media that hate crimes had distinct characteristics that could not be associated with the damage done to the temple.

"This was extensive," he said. "We're certainly looking at any possibility, bias-motivated or not."

The temple authorities quoted L.K. Advani, senior leader of India's main opposition Bhartiya Janta Party, as saying that he was "pained and appalled" by the attack and urged the US government to bring the culprits to book.